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oisin bourke
05-14-2010, 08:47 PM
It involves gut feelings, but elevated to an "art," haragei being "belly art," more or less. It also involves "broadcasting" one's own feelings to others and using your own hara to influence others, as Eric pointed out.

David

Further to David's excellent explanations, there's a book in English on the subject called "The Unspoken Way". It manages to be very informative and very infuriating at the same time. :hypno:

I think Professor Goldsbury mentioned the book somewhere on this forum.

David Orange
05-14-2010, 09:01 PM
Further to David's excellent explanations, there's a book in English on the subject called "The Unspoken Way". It manages to be very informative and very infuriating at the same time. :hypno:

I think Professor Goldsbury mentioned the book somewhere on this forum.

Yep. "The Unspoken Way Haragei: Silence in Japanese Business and Society".

I read that about 20 years ago and it turned on some lights for me. Of course, it's not something I've ever fully understood. It's a deep subject and most of my ideas and the posts I made on the other thread come from that book by Michihiro Matsumoto.

I'd put that book among the top ten "must reads" if you want to get past a superficial understanding of Japanese culture.

Thanks, Oisin.

David

Peter Goldsbury
05-14-2010, 09:57 PM
Hello David,

Is this the same book, or it is a sequel, also by Matsumoto?

The book I possess was published in 1984 by Kodansha and is called simply Haragei. The first 119 pages are in English, but the Japanese original starts from the other end and goes up to page 155. This is quite convenient, really, since you have the two versions end to end and students of Japanese can check the translation.

One of the reasons non-Japanese find the book infuriating is probably the style in which it is written. This is usually called 起承転結 (ki-shou-ten-ketsu) and is the accepted Japanese way of writing essays, novels, even science reports. In English translation the logic seems to evaporate. At present I am reading Kosaka Wado's books on the Takeuchi Documents, which are a 'scientific' version of something like Deguchi's Reikai Monogatari: a western version of the Da Vinci Code, but which goes back '3000 oku nen' (300,000,000,000 years). This is also written in the 起承転結 style and the diagrams and illustrations give the book a superficial impression of plausibility.

Matsumoto's book is too closely tied to cross-cultural communication and business negotiation, so a better discussion of hara in English can be found in Takie Sugiyama Lebra's The Japanese Self in Cultural Logic, published in 2004.

PAG

Yep. "The Unspoken Way Haragei: Silence in Japanese Business and Society".

I read that about 20 years ago and it turned on some lights for me. Of course, it's not something I've ever fully understood. It's a deep subject and most of my ideas and the posts I made on the other thread come from that book by Michihiro Matsumoto.

I'd put that book among the top ten "must reads" if you want to get past a superficial understanding of Japanese culture.

Thanks, Oisin.

David

Walker
05-15-2010, 06:28 PM
Now this is funny (from a review on Amazon)
"And, for the record, most Japanese businessmen I know think that 'Haragei' involves drawing a face on your tummy."

Samui! :D

niall
05-16-2010, 09:17 AM
A couple of linguistic points on the word haragei:
- yes there is a kind of game called haragei drawing a face on your stomach and moving it to speak.
- it can also be used for wily politicians who arrange to get things done without having clearly discussed what and why.
- the word has rather negative connotations for Japanese people because it implies a difference between what you say or do and what you really think.

The concept itself.is important in Japanese society as David and Peter said. I found out the hard way. Once shortly after we were married my wife asked me if I wanted a bath and I innocently said no. Wrong answer. It turned out she was really saying please have a bath first and get out of the way so the women can have a relaxed bath without worrying about the time. Right. Got it.

By the way in Japanese young people's slang now that would be called KY... That's short for "Kuki Yomenai!!!" Kuki means the situation and Yomenai means can't read...

niall
05-16-2010, 06:44 PM
This is an interesting interview with Chiba Sensei. He mentions wordless communication in passing:

ishin denshin, which means something like "communication as if two people had the same mind."

http://www.aikidoonline.com/articles/shihankai_articles/chiba/Chiba_Reflections_budo.php

David Orange
05-19-2010, 09:15 AM
Is this the same book, or it is a sequel, also by Matsumoto?

The book I possess was published in 1984 by Kodansha and is called simply Haragei. The first 119 pages are in English, but the Japanese original starts from the other end and goes up to page 155. This is quite convenient, really, since you have the two versions end to end and students of Japanese can check the translation.

Peter, I found the book in all English, about 1990, 92 or so.

One of the reasons non-Japanese find the book infuriating is probably the style in which it is written. This is usually called 起承転結 (ki-shou-ten-ketsu) and is the accepted Japanese way of writing essays, novels, even science reports. In English translation the logic seems to evaporate. At present I am reading Kosaka Wado's books on the Takeuchi Documents, which are a 'scientific' version of something like Deguchi's Reikai Monogatari: a western version of the Da Vinci Code, but which goes back '3000 oku nen' (300,000,000,000 years). This is also written in the 起承転結 style and the diagrams and illustrations give the book a superficial impression of plausibility.

That could spawn quite a social movement in Japan, as The DaVinci Code has done in the West.

Matsumoto's book is too closely tied to cross-cultural communication and business negotiation, so a better discussion of hara in English can be found in Takie Sugiyama Lebra's The Japanese Self in Cultural Logic, published in 2004.

Very interesting. I need to read that to understand my wife better.

Thanks immensely.

David

David Orange
05-19-2010, 09:57 AM
...a better discussion of hara in English can be found in Takie Sugiyama Lebra's The Japanese Self in Cultural Logic, published in 2004.

I just ordered it from Barnes and Noble (cheaper than Amazon). Looks very interesting. Here is a review, for those who might be interested:

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/anthropological_quarterly/v078/78.4borovoy.html

It sounds like this book will join "Sword and Chrysanthemum" and "Mirror, Jewel and Sword" as prime guides to Japanese culture and character.

An excerpt from the review:

""(The author) was trained as a sociologist in the heyday of structural functionalism, and this influence is plainly on display in the formalized view of self that provides the book's architecture. Venn diagrams and charts with circulating arrows populate the book. Students who are new to Japan will appreciate the clarity with which Lebra reveals the abutting worlds of "official" ceremonial appearances and hidden, backroom dealings, and her analysis of how the two are intertwined. In this endeavor, Lebra does not shy away from the very real issues of social fragmentation and corruption that face Japan today. For example, she includes police corruption and domestic violence as examples of the darker side of Japanese paternalism. Her discussion of wedding ceremonies as a form of "self display" includes not only a discussion of traditional ritual but also an example of the bridegroom, recently laid off, who hires an actor to play the "boss'" at his wedding. By developing and expanding the now-familiar uchi/soto (inside/outside) and ura/omote (back/front) dichotomies that have been popular in postwar Japan anthropology, Lebra sheds light on a vast range of otherwise unrelated social institutions and practices—including welfare reform, school discipline, domestic violence, corporate restructuring, mother-child suicide, seniority promotion, divorce, police violence and benevolence, attention to hierarchy in Japanese language, standardized patterns in Noh theater, and treatment of alzheimer's patients, to name only some.""

I think this will help me to better understand not only my wife, but my ex-wife, too.

Thanks, Peter.

David

odudog
05-20-2010, 05:38 PM
.....By the way in Japanese young people's slang now that would be called KY... That's short for "Kuki Yomenai!!!" Kuki means the situation and Yomenai means can't read...

I always heard and was confirmed by my Japanese wife that KY was "kuko yomi"...to read the air. Feel what is being said/done/implied/etc....without it actually being spelled out for you.

niall
05-20-2010, 06:38 PM
No - not with school and university students at least.
KY means not catching what's going on.

http://www.coolslang.com/Words/WordDetails.php?WordID=2522&LanguageFromName=Japanese